From Our Founder

Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to work as a government intern. Because of that experience, I became a more engaged citizen. I also gained knowledge and insight about how government operates which helped me to succeed in both the public and private sectors. The Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program seeks to provide a similar experience for our Fellows. In six years, we have placed 225 Schaeffer Fellows at more than 100 different internship sites, each with an alumni mentor from their university.

For Summer 2020, we intended to support fifty Schaeffer Fellows at our partner universities. We looked forward to collaborating with a variety of new internship sites and think tanks. We were planning our second annual national Schaeffer Fellows Summit in Washington D.C, and had recently launched a new online networking platform for our alumni.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, our internship placement process was upended. Secured internship opportunities were canceled, travel was halted and, in the absence of a coordinated national government response, local and state governments were left to determine their own best practices. While many other internship programs canceled their sponsorships, our program recognized that the need for public servants was never more critical. In close collaboration with our university partners, our program was able to place fifty undergraduate students in high-level government internships that allowed Fellows to work remotely. We also offered a virtual Schaeffer Fellow Summit Series throughout the summer. It was a significant undertaking that succeeded only because everyone involved believed strongly in the value of the internship experience.

As you will see in the pages that follow, our Schaeffer Fellows had a remarkable impact on the offices that they supported and the communities they served. Many of them had opportunities to contribute to government efforts to educate government leaders and the American people about COVID-19. Others spent their time dealing with constituent needs and community issues. The Fellows’ intelligence, creativity, and critical thinking skills became valuable assets for their internship offices. Despite all the challenges, Fellows were exposed to the impact of government work and able to make important contributions.

2020 has been an extraordinarily difficult time for our nation. I am very proud, however, that our program and its partners transitioned effectively to a virtual format that afforded our interns the opportunity to help. The 2020 Schaeffer Fellows had a different experience from years past but they also learned how agile governments must be when responding to a public health crisis.


Leonard Schaeffer


Our Mission

The Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows in Government Service program exposes undergraduate students to government work and its impact through 10-week, full-time, high-level internship placements with elected officials and agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. While not all Schaeffer Fellows pursue a career in government, the program creates the opportunity for participants to become engaged citizens and develop an informed view of government service and operations.

Program Overview

Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows are selected by participating universities around the U.S. and represent a diversity of backgrounds, political perspectives, and academic disciplines. As a cohort, they participate in a shared professional development curriculum that focuses on professionalism, networking, fostering camaraderie and interaction, and utilizing the fellowship as a launchpad for future opportunities.

Living Stipend & Accessories

Fellows receive generous funds to support cost of living & various program accessories

Internship Supervisors

Host offices assign high-level work projects and support networking

Resource guide

A handbook of professional development activities to enhance the internship experience

Schaeffer Fellows Summit

A public service oriented professional development conference for the national cohort

Online Community

Private platform for program updates and resources, and networking with alumni and professional partners

Alumni Mentors

University alumni recruited for one-on-one mentoring to support goal setting and networking

Spring Virtual Orientation

An introduction to program goals, cohort experience, and government internship expectations

Fall Recognition Events

Each university recognizes individual contributions to public service

University Partners

Each University Partner commits to a shared memorandum of understanding. The MOU outlines the role of the university in securing internships, selecting Schaeffer Fellows, and pairing Fellows with alumni mentors.

Fellows selected by the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics as part of the Director’s Internship program.


Fellows selected by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement as part of the Princeton Internships in Civic Service internship program.


Fellows selected through the non-profit Health Career Connection (HCC) Northern California in partnership with the Berkeley School of Public Health.


Fellows selected through Academic Honors and Fellowships with assistance from USC offices of State & Federal Government Relations to identify internships.


Fellows selected through a partnership between the Miller Center, the UVA Career Center, and the UVA Center for Politics.


I came away with a lot more confidence in myself, my abilities, and my capacity to make change in the public policy world if I choose to do so. I also have more confidence in my ability to respond to unforeseen circumstances and challenges. I believe that the Schaeffer Fellows program has provided me with another professional support system as I look for more opportunities in the future.

Leah Erwin

University of Virginia, Congressmember Abigail Spanberger (VA)

Survey Results from Fellows


Our Redesigned online community

Leonard D. Schaeffer Fellows represent a diversity of backgrounds, political perspectives, and academic disciplines. As a cohort, they participate in a shared professional development curriculum focused on professionalism, networking, fostering camaraderie and interaction, and utilizing the fellowship as a launchpad for future opportunities.


Network map

The interactive map offers a searchable network of members to encourage connecting with peers, alumni, and professionals.



Private groups based on cohort year, university, or interest area allow for targeted events, posts, and discussions.



Program events and event offerings from university and institutional partners are open to Fellows and the broader network.



Digital assets, including the Resource Guide and recorded Summit sessions, are linked and downloadable for review.



Topical threads posted for the whole Community or specific groups to participate in ongoing discussions with peers.



Competitive fellowships, graduate study, and job opportunities are shared via the Live Feed. A private job board coming soon.


Public service
In a pandemic

This year, Schaeffer Fellows faced an unusual work environment. They shared their thoughts about the value of working with constituents and policymakers in the midst of a global pandemic and a contentious U.S. election cycle.

2020 Harvard Fellows

Charlotte Berry | FEMA
Nicholas Brennan | Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY)
Elijah DeVaughn | Governor of California
Carlos Garcia Perez | Mayor of Miami (FL)
Elizabeth Guo | U.S. Dept. of Commerce
Anan Hafez | Peace Corps
Vivian Herbert | Boston City Councilor
Matt Jelen | State Senator Eric Lesser (MA)
Amariah Jones | Michigan Secretary of State
Orlee Marini-Rappaport | Library of Congress
Ryyan Pritchett | Mayor of Atlanta

2020 Princeton Fellows

Celia Buchband | Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ)
Mindy Burton | National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association
Melissa Chun | State Senator Heather Steans (IL)
Casey Conrad | USDA Forest Service
Ivan Garcia | USDA Forest Service
Katie Goldman | State Senator Heather Steans (IL)
Shafaq Khan | Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL)
Alan Lin | Federal Energy Regulation Committee
Rachel Sylwester | Federal Trade Commission


Learning the role of city government in a health crisis

Working with the associate planner that heads the Healthy Ontario initiative created more transparency around the inner workings of city government, and the nature of public health sometimes being at odds with other departments like economic development. This experience helped me to recognize the intricacies [of government work] and apply knowledge from my public health classes into my internship.

Dharaa Upadhyaya

University of California, Berkeley, City of Ontario, CA


2020 U.C. Berkeley Fellows

Michael DaRodda | D.C. Department of Health
Jashdeep Dhillon | Mayor of Stockton (CA)
Alejandro González | Mayor of Stockton (CA)
Natasha Ham | San Francisco General Hospital
Lexi Kindrick | Sacramento Public Health Dept.
Dante Miguel | City of Richmond, CA
Lizbeth Ortiz-Pivaral | Sacramento Public Health Dept.
Fabian Salas | California Dept. of Public Health
Semhar Teklu | Contra Costa Health Services
Dharaa Upadhyaya | City of Ontario, CA
Islah Zareef-Mustafa | Alameda County Public Health Dept.


Examining re-entry programs for incarcerated Californians

For CourtWatch, I observed court proceedings and followed trials via Zoom or YouTube Live. I wrote articles about what I observed that were published on the Davis Vanguard website. For the Post-Conviction Unit, I interviewed formerly incarcerated folks to learn about their experiences with re-entry, including their re-entry needs and challenges, and created an up-to-date, comprehensive re-entry guide.

Ruby Wilks

University of Southern California, San Francisco Public Defender

2020 USC Fellows

Evelyn Camacho | U.S. Dept. of Commerce
Chasia Jeffries |
Los Angeles District Attorney
John Kimble |
California Dept. of Transportation
Alexandra Lee |
U.S. Agency for International Development
Tommy Nguyen |
State Senator Holly Mitchell (CA)
Rinsoluwa Oisaghie |
Contra Costa Public Defender
Mia Speier |
U.S. Agency for Global Media
Ruby Wilks |
San Francisco Public Defender
Natalia Wurst |
U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

2020 UVA Fellows

Max Barte | Arlington County Dept. of Human Services
Leah Erwin | Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA)
Diana Gaiter | Arlington County Dept. of Human Services
William Gatchel | Smithsonian National Museum
Austin Katstra | County of Fluvanna, VA
Yixuan Liu | U.S. Dept. of Justice
Justin May | U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
Maeov Saadee | U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services
Ashley Staggers | Smithsonian National Museum
Mariah Tighe | Virginia State Police


Analyzing the impact of COVID-19 on education

My most valuable work experience was performing research for legislative staffers. This was a great opportunity to share ideas and collaborate with the policy experts in the office. One project focused on researching NYSED’s guidance for reopening schools. Having been interested in education policy throughout high school, I found that I connected well with the content and had a pertinent perspective on the issue at hand.

Nicholas Brennan

Harvard University, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Virtual Summit Series

Schaeffer Fellows participated in a Virtual Orientation and a four-session Schaeffer Fellows Summit Series focused on professional development and lessons in public service.

Partner Organization


A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that assists with the annual Schaeffer Fellows Summit by identifying speakers and professional development resources.

S.M.A.R.T Goals & Networking

Schaeffer Fellows are encouraged to reflect on their core values and set actionable goals for the summer and beyond. In the new virtual work environment, Fellows were presented with tips for building professional relationships while working from home and without traditional in-person networking functions.

Founder's Fireside Chat

Mr. Schaeffer shared his humorous take on how he “saved American democracy” as a congressional intern, and the lessons he learned that he has applied throughout his cross-sector career.

Panel of Public Service Leaders

Public service professionals representing an array of government sectors such as health and cybersecurity shared lessons learned and resources for decision-making throughout their careers.

Brookings Institution Panel

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization with 300+ scholars conducting in-depth research focused on solving problems facing society. 
Fellows had the opportunity to pose questions to Brookings President, General John Allen, Dr. Elaine Kamarck, Senior Fellow in Brookings Governance Studies and founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management, and Dr. Andre Perry, a Fellow in Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

Transferable Skills & Keynote

The Partnership for Public Service presented on best practices for promoting positive change and translating the internship experience into future opportunities. Keynote speaker Mr. Steven Barney recently finished his service on the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. Mr. Barney spoke about engaging in nonpartisan public service and risk-taking.

Grounded in four key themes

The Schaeffer Fellows professional development curriculum is grounded in four key themes that encourage Fellows to think strategically about how lessons learned during the internship will apply to a career in any field.


Reflecting on vision & values


Exploring leadership lessons


collaborating & networking


Developing Transferable Skills


RAND Corporation Partner Events

RAND is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.

Graduate Summer Associates

A panel of graduate students spoke with group of current Fellows and alumni about their research areas and advanced studies in international affairs.

Countering “Truth Decay”

Michael Rich, the CEO of RAND, hosted an intimate conversation with Fellows and alumni about the RAND publication, “An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life.” 

Fall Recognition

Each University Partner assisted in hosting a virtual closing recognition event for their institution’s cohort of 2020 Fellows to recognize their contributions to public service. Fellows shared details of meaningful summer projects and reflections on working in government in the midst of the pandemic.

The program sought their feedback, particularly on the virtual format. University administrators congratulated the Fellows on their completion of the fellowship and Alumni Ambassadors reflected on how their own Schaeffer Fellowship contributed to their academic and professional trajectory.


During the Summit, I learned that networking in a manner that is natural will get me farther. Simply sending an article that I think someone might find interesting is a great way to form connections. Prior to hearing this advice, I felt like networking had to be very thought out and manufactured but now I see networking in a new light.

Ryyan Pritchett

Harvard University, Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms

alumni in action

Schaeffer Fellow Alumni go on to pursue graduate study, competitive fellowships, research positions, and professional roles in the public and private sector.
This year, the first group of Alumni Ambassadors were invited to serve as peer contacts for each university and fellowship year cohort. 

Alumni Lounges

Alumni Ambassadors facilitated informal virtual meetings with current Fellows and other alumni to discuss topics based on their academic and professional experiences. Alumni lounge topics included pursuing competitive fellowships, applying to graduate school, and early careers in public service.



Alumni Ambassadors offer advice and guidance into the internship experience, graduate study, and early career planning. Some also serve as Alumni Mentors to current Schaeffer Fellows.


Online Community

The new online Community offers more opportunities for alumni to interact and utilize an expanding library of program resources. In the coming year, Alumni Ambassadors will play a critical role in developing program content and promoting interaction among a growing network of Schaeffer Fellow alumni.

Recent Alumni: Year in Review


Grecia Diaz


2019 Schaeffer Fellow

Grecia is one of 18 candidates selected as a 2020 Executive Fellow through the Center for California Studies in Sacramento. The ten-month fellowship focuses on experiential education through high-level government work, and academic and professional development. Grecia will work with CalRecycle.



2019 Schaeffer Fellow

Matthew continued on in his Schaeffer Fellow internship role with the Virginia State Police through his senior year. After graduating from UVA, Matt was hired as a full-time Senior Intelligence Analyst with Virginia’s Fusion Center and is training to be a subject matter expert.


jONG sU (yUMA) kIM


2019 Schaeffer Fellow

Yuma graduated in 2020 with both a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Science in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence. In the coming months, Yuma will enter active military duty with the United States Air Force.

2020 cohort: fellowship recipients

Schaeffer Fellows often go on to be selected for competitive national and international fellowships.


Rhodes Scholar

Harvard Fellow Elijah (EJayy) DeVaughn has been named a 2020 Rhodes Scholar. EJayy plans to pursue a degree in history at Oxford, focusing on the travels of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and Malcolm X in the United Kingdom, the political philosophies they brought with them, and the insights into American racism they gained while abroad.


CSPC Presidential Fellow

USC Fellow Evelyn Camacho was selected as a 2020 Presidential Fellow with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress to support her thesis on the impact of COVID-19 on absentee voting and possible future precedents. Evelyn will present her research in the spring to a global network of CSPC Fellows, national policymakers and leading experts.